Minimally Invasive Lumbar Spinal Fusion (cont.)
Jason C. Eck, DO, MS
Dr. Eck received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Catholic University of America in Biomedical Engineering, followed by a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University. Following this he worked as a research engineer conducting spine biomechanics research. He then attended medical school at University of Health Sciences. He is board eligible in orthopaedic surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Introduction to lumbar spinal fusion
- What is lumbar spinal fusion?
- What is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- What are the advantages of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- What is the disadvantage of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- How effective is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- Am I a candidate for minimally lumbar invasive spinal fusion?
- Minimally Invasive Lumbar Spinal Fusion At A Glance
What is the disadvantage of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
As with any new technique, one of the major disadvantages is the additional time needed to perform the procedure. While a surgeon may be very comfortable with the traditional surgical fusion techniques, it will take time to be able to achieve the same outcome using these new methods. Surgeons with more experience can now perform lumbar spinal fusion in equal or even less time than with the traditional techniques.
Not all surgeons perform these techniques, so it may not be available from your current surgeon or in your area.
How effective is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
The results for the minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion through the abdomen have not been as good as the traditional anterior fusion techniques. The success of the fusion has been less reliable, the operative times are longer and there are increased risks of injury to the nerves using the minimally invasive techniques. Because of this, many surgeons have stopped using this technique.
The results of the minimally invasive procedures through the back have been much more promising. Experienced surgeons are able to perform lumbar spinal fusion through the back quicker, with similar fusion rates, less blood loss, and quicker recovery times than using traditional techniques.
The newer minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion techniques though the patient's side are still being refined. The initial techniques had some increased risk of damage to nerves, but more recent changes have made these even safer and more effective. The results so far are very promising for this technique, but there have been a limited number of studies. Additionally, since this was only recently developed, there are fewer surgeons performing this technique.
Am I a candidate for minimally lumbar invasive spinal fusion?
First, you and your doctor need to determine if you are a candidate for spinal fusion. Remember, the majority of patients with low back pain recover within six weeks regardless of treatment. If you have had prolonged symptoms you should see your physician. If it is decided you may need surgery you will be referred to a spinal surgeon for further evaluation. If a fusion is thought to be potentially beneficial for you, the option of minimally invasive techniques can then be discussed with your surgeon.
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